Pinetree Line

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A rough map of the three warning lines. From north to south: Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line, Mid-Canada Line, and Pinetree Line.

The Pinetree Line was a series of radar stations located across the northern United States and southern Canada at about the 50th parallel north, along with a number of other stations located on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Run by NORAD (after its creation), over half were manned by United States Air Force personnel with the balance operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force. The line was the first coordinated system for early detection of a Soviet bomber attack on North America, but the early 1950s radar technology quickly became outdated and the line was in full operation only for a short time.

History[edit]

Plans for what would become the Pinetree Line were underway as early as 1946 within the Permanent Joint Board on Defence (PJBD), a Canadian-U.S. organization. However, the costs of running such a system in the post-war era was too high, and instead Canada concentrated on the areas around Ontario and Quebec, while the United States set up stations in the Midwest and along the eastern seaboard.

With the successful test of an atomic bomb in the USSR, plans changed considerably. In 1949 Congress agreed to a $161 million construction program in co-operation with the RCAF, for a continuous line of stations across southern Canada. The USAF's Continental Air Command and the RCAF met in October 1950 to start planning, and in January 1951 the PJBD presented Recommendation 51/1 for the Extension of the Continental Radar Defence System. The USAF later requested an additional set of six (potentially) mobile stations to provide low-level coverage. It was later learned that the original radar systems performed better than expected, and a number of the mobile sites were never deployed.

The system was eventually deployed as a series of 33 main stations and 6 smaller "gap fillers". The majority of these ran in a line at about the 53rd parallel in the west (to offer coverage of major Canadian cities) and about the 50th parallel in the east. A second line ran up the eastern seaboard from the southern tip of Nova Scotia to the southern tip of Baffin Island. Of these, 22 of the main stations and all of the gap fillers were paid for by the USAF, leaving 11 to the RCAF. However 16 of the main stations were manned by RCAF personnel. On 1 January 1955, the system was officially handed over to RCAF command, and over time an additional 10 stations were added.

The Pinetree Line had several technical problems that limited its usefulness almost immediately. For one, the system used a "classic" pulsed mode radar, which made it unable to detect targets close to the ground due to "clutter". Another was that its location near population centres meant it offered only a "last minute" warning, and as the USSR moved to jet-powered bombers the warning time was falling. Studies were already underway in 1951 to build a much smaller series of much more capable Doppler radar stations somewhat further north, which would develop into the Mid-Canada Line, and just over a year after MCL, a more advanced system in the extreme north was built which would be known as the DEW Line.

The Pinetree stations were kept operational during this period, and most underwent modifications as a part of the deployment of SAGE. SAGE dramatically reduced the workload at the stations, cutting staff requirements by well over half. By the later 1950s some were being mothballed as newer systems came on line to the north. Nevertheless many of the Pinetree stations were kept operational into the 1980s, particularly on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Radar stations[edit]

Site Number Name Province Location Unit Service Activated Inactivated
C-53 CFS Alsask SK Saskatchewan 51°22′00″N 109°58′59″W / 51.36667°N 109.98306°W / 51.36667; -109.98306 (CFS Alsask AS C-21) 44 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1953 1986
C-15 CFS Armstrong ON Ontario 50°18′19″N 089°00′49″W / 50.30528°N 89.01361°W / 50.30528; -89.01361 (Armstrong C-15) 914th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
38 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1952 1974
C-20 CFS Baldy Hughes BC British Columbia 53°37′06″N 122°56′08″W / 53.61833°N 122.93556°W / 53.61833; -122.93556 (Baldy Hughes C-20) 918th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
54 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1953 1988
C-102 CFS Barrington NS Nova Scotia 43°27′06″N 065°28′17″W / 43.45167°N 65.47139°W / 43.45167; -65.47139 (Barrington C-102)} 672d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
23 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1957 1990
C-17 CFS Beausejour MB Manitoba 50°08′53″N 096°13′24″W / 50.14806°N 96.22333°W / 50.14806; -96.22333 (Beausejour C-17) 916th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
48 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1953 1988
C-11 RCAF Beaverbank NS Nova Scotia 44°55′49″N 063°43′33″W / 44.93028°N 63.72583°W / 44.93028; -63.72583 (Beaverbank C-11) 22 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1954 1964
C-21 RCAF Saskatoon Mountain
CFS Beaverlodge
AB Alberta 55°13′51″N 119°18′19″W / 55.23083°N 119.30528°W / 55.23083; -119.30528 (Beaverlodge C-21) 919th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
57 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1953 1988
N-28A Cape Makkovik Air Station NL Newfoundland and Labrador 55°13′30″N 059°08′45″W / 55.22500°N 59.14583°W / 55.22500; -59.14583 (Cape Makkovik N-28A) 923d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1957 1961
N-27 Cartwright Air Station NL Newfoundland and Labrador 53°43′28″N 056°57′51″W / 53.72444°N 56.96417°W / 53.72444; -56.96417 (Cartwright N-27) 922d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1953 1968
C-42 CFS Chibougamau QC Quebec 49°56′53″N 074°20′03″W / 49.94806°N 74.33417°W / 49.94806; -74.33417 (Chibougamau C-42) 10 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1962 1988
C-36 CFS Cold Lake AB Alberta 54°26′05″N 110°10′47″W / 54.43472°N 110.17972°W / 54.43472; -110.17972 (Cold Lake C-36) 42 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1954 1991
C-35 CFB Comox BC British Columbia 49°42′39″N 124°53′12″W / 49.71083°N 124.88667°W / 49.71083; -124.88667 (Comox C-35) 51 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1954 1958
N-27A Cut Throat Island Air Station NL Newfoundland and Labrador 59°29′47″N 057°08′00″W / 59.49639°N 57.13333°W / 59.49639; -57.13333 (Cut Throat Island N-27A) 922d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1957 1961
C-52 CFS Dana SK Saskatchewan 52°16′42″N 105°46′09″W / 52.27833°N 105.76917°W / 52.27833; -105.76917 (Dana C-52) 45 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1964 1987
C-4 CFS Edgar ON Ontario 44°31′47″N 079°39′33″W / 44.52972°N 79.65917°W / 44.52972; -79.65917 (Edgar C-4) 31 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1953 1964
N-22B Elliston Ridge Air Station NL Newfoundland and Labrador 48°37′33″N 053°03′31″W / 48.62583°N 53.05861°W / 48.62583; -53.05861 (Elliston Ridge N-22B) 642d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1957 1961
C-9 CFS Falconbridge ON Ontario 46°37′34″N 080°50′36″W / 46.62611°N 80.84333°W / 46.62611; -80.84333 (Falconbridge C-9) 33 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1952 1986
N-27C Fox Harbour Air Station NL Newfoundland and Labrador 52°22′12″N 055°39′52″W / 52.37000°N 55.66444°W / 52.37000; -55.66444 (Fox Harbour N-27C) 922d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1957 1961
C-3 CFS Foymount ON Ontario 45°26′01″N 077°18′08″W / 45.43361°N 77.30222°W / 45.43361; -77.30222 (Foymount C-3) 32 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1952 1974
N-31 Frobisher Bay AB NU Nunavut 63°45′21″N 068°32′23″W / 63.75583°N 68.53972°W / 63.75583; -68.53972 (robisher Bay N-31) 926th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1953 1961
N-25 CFB Gander NL Newfoundland and Labrador 48°56′36″N 054°34′57″W / 48.94333°N 54.58250°W / 48.94333; -54.58250 (Gander N-25) 226 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1953 1990
C-24 Goose Air Force Base NL Newfoundland and Labrador 53°19′09″N 060°25′33″W / 53.31917°N 60.42583°W / 53.31917; -60.42583 (Goose Bay C-24) Goose Air Defense Sector
64th Air Division
37th Air Division
USAF 1953 1971
C-49 CFS Gypsumville MB Manitoba 51°39′51″N 098°44′31″W / 51.66417°N 98.74194°W / 51.66417; -98.74194 (Gypsumville C-49) 47 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1962 1987
C-18 CFS Holberg BC British Columbia 50°38′25″N 128°07′48″W / 50.64028°N 128.13000°W / 50.64028; -128.13000 (Holberg C-18) 501 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
53 Radar Squadron
RCAF 1954 1991
N-28 Hopedale Air Station NL Newfoundland and Labrador 55°27′59″N 060°13′47″W / 55.46639°N 60.22972°W / 55.46639; -60.22972 (Hopedale N-28)} 923d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1953 1968
C-153 CFS Kamloops BC British Columbia 50°48′08″N 120°07′36″W / 50.80222°N 120.12667°W / 50.80222; -120.12667 (Kamloops C-153) 825th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
56 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1957 1988
C-2 CFS Lac St. Denis QC Quebec 45°56′15″N 074°18′41″W / 45.93750°N 74.31139°W / 45.93750; -74.31139 (Lac St. Denis C-2) 11 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1952 1986
N-26B La Scie Air Station NL Newfoundland and Labrador 49°58′50″N 055°31′48″W / 49.98056°N 55.53000°W / 49.98056; -55.53000 (La Scie N-26B) 921st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1957 1961
C-119 CFS Lowther ON Ontario 49°33′21″N 082°59′31″W / 49.55583°N 82.99194°W / 49.55583; -82.99194 (Lowther C-119) 639th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
36 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1957 1987
N-24 Melville Air Station NL Newfoundland and Labrador 53°17′45″N 060°32′24″W / 53.29583°N 60.54000°W / 53.29583; -60.54000 (Melville N-24) 107th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
641st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
641 Aircraft Control and Radar Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1953 1988
C-33 CFS Moisie QC Quebec 50°11′39″N 066°05′16″W / 50.19417°N 66.08778°W / 50.19417; -66.08778 (Moisie C-33) 211 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1953 1988
C-1 CFS Mont Apica QC Quebec 47°58′41″N 071°25′51″W / 47.97806°N 71.43083°W / 47.97806; -71.43083 (Mont Apice C-1) 12 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1952 1990
C-44 CFS Moosonee ON Ontario 51°17′10″N 080°37′23″W / 51.28611°N 80.62306°W / 51.28611; -80.62306 (Moosonee C-44) 15 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1961 1975
C-14 RCAF Station Pagwa ON Ontario 50°01′04″N 085°15′06″W / 50.01778°N 85.25167°W / 50.01778; -85.25167 (Pagwa C-14) 913th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
37 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1952 1966
C-7 RCAF Parent QC Quebec 47°53′15″N 074°40′09″W / 47.88750°N 74.66917°W / 47.88750; -74.66917 (Parent C-7) 14 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1954 1964
C-54 CFS Penhold AB Alberta 52°11′16″N 113°34′41″W / 52.18778°N 113.57806°W / 52.18778; -113.57806 (Penhold C-54) 43 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1964 1986
C-19 RCAF Station Puntzi Mountain BC British Columbia 52°09′41″N 124°12′22″W / 52.16139°N 124.20611°W / 52.16139; -124.20611 (Puntzi Mountain C-19) 917th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
55 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1952 1966
C-10 CFS Ramore ON Ontario 48°25′37″N 080°14′30″W / 48.42694°N 80.24167°W / 48.42694; -80.24167 (Ramore C-10) 912th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
35 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1953 1974
N-30 CFS Resolution Island NU Nunavut 61°35′47″N 064°38′18″W / 61.59639°N 64.63833°W / 61.59639; -64.63833 (Resolution Island N-30) 920th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1951 1961
N-29 Saglek Air Station NL Newfoundland and Labrador 58°29′19″N 062°35′08″W / 58.48861°N 62.58556°W / 58.48861; -62.58556 (Saglek N-29) 924th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1953 1970
C-8 CFS Senneterre QC Quebec 48°21′41″N 077°13′21″W / 48.36139°N 77.22250°W / 48.36139; -77.22250 (Senneterre C-8) 34 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1953 1988
C-16 CFS Sioux Lookout ON Ontario 50°04′59″N 092°00′08″W / 50.08306°N 92.00222°W / 50.08306; -92.00222 (Sioux Lookout C-16) 915th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
39 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1953 1987
N-27B Spotted Island Air Station NL Newfoundland and Labrador 53°31′05″N 055°44′56″W / 53.51806°N 55.74889°W / 53.51806; -55.74889 (Spotted Island N-27B) 922d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1957 1961
N-26 Saint Anthony Air Station NL Newfoundland and Labrador 51°20′57″N 055°36′39″W / 51.34917°N 55.61083°W / 51.34917; -55.61083 (Saint Anthony N-26) 921st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1953 1968
N-22 Red Cliff Air Station
St. Johns Air Station
NL Newfoundland and Labrador 47°38′20″N 052°40′02″W / 47.63889°N 52.66722°W / 47.63889; -52.66722 (Red Cliff N-22) 642d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1953 1961
C-5 CFS St. Margarets NB New Brunswick 46°54′31″N 065°12′31″W / 46.90861°N 65.20861°W / 46.90861; -65.20861 (St. Margarets C-5) 21 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1953 1988
C-6 RCAF St. Sylvestre QC Quebec 46°22′04″N 071°13′51″W / 46.36778°N 71.23083°W / 46.36778; -71.23083 (St. Sylvestre C-6) 206 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1955 1964
N-23 Stephenville Air Station NL Newfoundland and Labrador 48°35′21″N 058°39′51″W / 48.58917°N 58.66417°W / 48.58917; -58.66417 (Stephenville N-23) 105th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
640th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
USAF 1952 1971
C-34 CFS Sydney NS Nova Scotia 46°10′03″N 060°09′52″W / 46.16750°N 60.16444°W / 46.16750; -60.16444 (Sydney C-34) 221 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1954 1991
C-36 RCAF Tofino BC British Columbia 49°04′55″N 125°46′51″W / 49.08194°N 125.78083°W / 49.08194; -125.78083 (Tofino C-36) 52 Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron RCAF 1955 1957
C-51 CFS Yorkton SK Saskatchewan 51°17′41″N 102°36′21″W / 51.29472°N 102.60583°W / 51.29472; -102.60583 (Yorkton C-51) 46 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1963 1986

See also[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946 – 1980, by Lloyd H. Cornett and Mildred W. Johnson, Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
  • The Pinetree Line
  • Pinetree Line Database

External links[edit]

[http://www.trackingdistance.com 1997 video documentary by Greg Marshall - Personal stories from Canada's role in the Cold War and NORAD]